Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Many Places of Censorship

Regulating Arab Satellite TVs.
According to Syrian actor Duraid Lahham, the only Arab politicians able to reach an agreement between us are… Home Secretaries! In fact, when repression is on the agenda cooperation can be expected even between Information departments of most Arab countries.

It has been the case a few days ago when a document “regulating” satellite broadcasting in the Arab world was signed by all the members of the Arab League, with the only exception of Qatar.

Indeed, the “Al-Jazeera Emirate” has nothing to expect from a document which calls for sanctions against satellite TVs in case of defamatory statements against heads of state or “national and religious symbols.”

Prepared in no more than six months, adopted in less than one hour discussions, the “regulating” document is already adopted by the Egyptian authorities for all new media projects, including in the so-called “free zone” of Media City.

The coming meeting of the Arab League, next June, should see the creation of an Arab official body in charge of the application of the adopted document whenever prosecution will be necessary.

And now, according to “well informed sources” a similar document is under study in order to “regulate” the Arab internet.

Press freedom in Palestine
One more problem with political cartoons... In Palestine for a change. Because of this cartoon (taken from the very interesting, the pro-Fatah daily Al-Ayyam in Ramallah has been banned by a Gaza court for being “defamatory”. According to the general attorney, the cartoon was not only offensing to Hamas members of the Parliament but also to Islam.

Al-Ayyam distribution is forbidden in Gaza since February 6th.

Western Censorship too…Whenever he scores in a soccer competition, Muhammad Abu Trika, from the Egyptian national selection, does not only make the sujûd (to prostrate oneself to thank God) as seen in the previous post.

Being an “engaged man” in the actual meaning of the word, he can also express his sympathy for a cause like the fate of the Palestinians in the Gaza strip.

Many Arab bloggers and journalist have noted that when the Egyptian soccer star has been fined by the soccer federation because of this demonstration, other players in similar occasions, Brazilian (and Christian Evangelist) player Kaka by instance, did not get any sanction even when he expresses his faith in God.

More than that, Abu Trika’s photo has almost disappeared from the Internet. Searching for “Abu Trika” and “Gaza” on Google does not give you anymore access to a photo which has been published so many times…

Enough, even though Google denies it, to allow many people in the Arab world to think that Egyptian and/or Israelis authorities are behind the vanishing of a too popular picture…

Follow that link to read the original and more detailed post in French.

Soccer, religion and rituals: the Egyptians Pharaons win the Africa Cup of Nations

Obviously linked to political issues (see this previous post), soccer has always been associated with demonstration of national but also regional, ethnical and local identities.

Since the last decade, Arab soccer fields have also been a place for the affirmation of religious identity through the new habit among many (muslim) players of doing the sujûd (to prostrate oneself) whenever they score a goal.

According to muslim authorities, to do the sujûd whenever you want to thank God is perfectly OK. Others add that it may even be useful to show that soccer fields are places where God rewards those who He loves…

Sami Sabri, from the Egyptian national selection, explains that the sujûd also is a way for the muslim player to express his happiness according to the rites and values of the Arab and muslim societies, and without imitating the sometimes “grostesque gesticulations” of players coming from other cultures.

Nonetheless, there could be another explanation behind the endless demonstrations of piety showed by the Egyptian team during the competition : playing in Africa, and especially in Kumasi, capital of the Ashinti kings, they had to protect themselves against witchcrafts by the reading of Coranic verses!...

Follow that link to read the original and more detailed post in French.